Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918–19 in Philadelphia

The College of Physicians/Mütter Museum

2018
$300,000

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"Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 in Philadephia," 4th Liberty Loan Parade, 1918, Collection of Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of The College of Physicians/Mütter Museum.

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Mütter Museum Gallery, 2018. Photo courtesy of The College of Physicians/Mütter Museum.

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"Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 in Philadephia," Spit Spreads Death sign, 1918, Collection of Temple University Libraries. Photo courtesy of The College of Physicians/Mütter Museum.

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"Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 in Philadephia," death certificate of Eliza Boney, 1918, Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg, Ancestry.com. Photo courtesy of The College of Physicians/Mütter Museum.

The Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia will present Spit Spreads Death, an exhibition about the 1918–19 influenza pandemic in Philadelphia. Built on data from over 20,000 death certificates of individuals who died from the flu outbreak in the city, the exhibition will reveal personal stories to contextualize historical and public health information, and explore connections between civic responsibility and public health. Award-winning, UK-based artist group Blast Theory will organize a commemorative parade on the anniversary of the Liberty Loan parade—an event that served as a catalyst for the rapid and catastrophic spread of the disease—to memorialize the victims and honor those working to address current public health issues. The exhibition will feature an art film using parade footage, along with objects, photographs, and interactive elements such as a digital map and “neighborhood explorer” that will illuminate the stories of particular neighborhoods and help visitors visualize the impact and spread of the disease. The College of Physicians received a 2016 Discovery grant for the concept development and planning of Spit Spreads Death.

 

Additional unrestricted funds are added to each grant for general operating support.